Tagged: MovieStars

Some stuff happened in 2013

I never seem to have enough time to blog about stuff as/when it happens so here’s a summary of things I’ve been meaning to tell you about. Because some awesome shit happened last year.

I finally got those tattoos.


I got to say hello to my favourite band. (And Dad did, too.)

That’s Kamelot by the way. You should check them out.

I had lunch by a glacier.

The Eiger in Switzerland.

Also this photo happened on the way up.

While in Switzerland, I went to Sherlock Town Meiringen and the Reichenbach Falls. This is where it all went down.

Down the falls they went…

Also, I heard a talk by TERRY ACTUAL PRATCHETT.

One word: <3 And I saw an amazing literary event with my favourite actors, my favourite pianist and some of my favourite authors all in the same building. And I actually blogged about this one.

Overall, it was quite a good year for holidays, catching up with my loved ones and for my inner fangirl. 2014 better be fucking awesome to keep up with that.

And I didn’t scream or faint.
(Almost not at all.)

Question: How do you give Girl With A Pen multiple fangasms?

Answer: Just put Gillian Anderson, Benedict Cumberbatch, James Rhodes, Neil Gaiman and assorted other Awesome People into a room. With books.

Exactly this happened a few weeks ago. Letters Live, a night of Awesome People reading brilliant letters. And by some miracle I managed to get tickets about five seconds before the Cumberbitches found out about it and the whole thing sold out within minutes.

So, for the first time ever and after waiting for about sixteen years, I managed to be in the same building with my biggest celebrity crush / role model / Woman I Want To Be, Gillian Anderson, and watch her do amazing acting stuff live on stage. I also have tickets to see her in A Streetcar Named Desire next year which I probably won’t survive. And what can I say, other than she’s fantastically good at what she does, as well as being gorgeous and utterly charming. Yes, I’m fangirling and I’m not ashamed.

Gillian Anderson

Here’s Gillian reading a very entertaining letter by Dorothy Parker. (YouTube)

Then there was James Rhodes, my favourite living pianist, reading and playing Beethoven. Turns out he is just as gorgeous on the microphone as he is at a piano. Such an inspiration. I need to get myself to one of his gigs. Yes, still fangirling.

Other things I learned that evening:
a) Benedict Cumberbatch is really unnecessarily attractive as well as breathtakingly good at acting. (Seriously, how’s a girl supposed to cope?!)
b) I would really like for Neil Gaiman to read every single one of his stories and novels to me, and
c) I need to listen to more Nick Cave.

And I also got some Cumberbach reading a love letter. Quite gutted I didn’t catch the steamy parts on video.

I’ll stop fangirling now and will get on with the pictures.

Response code is 404


And finally, the best bit of dialogue from the book auction that ever occurred. (In the world, ever.)

Gillian Anderson: “£3800 for a bit of Benedict Cumberbatch!”
Neil Gaiman: “…also licked by Gillian Anderson!”

The book eventually sold for £5k. Caitlin Moran bought it, because she has five grand to spare and I haven’t. Not bitter AT ALL.

re:View – Star Trek: Into Khan’s Private Quarters Please Darkness

So I’ve been to the cinema to watch Something With Benedict Cumberbatch In It Start Trek: Into Darkness. And was quite surprised to be reminded how much I used to love Star Trek. (Not sure how I ever forgot.)

I don’t think my brain is currently working enough to put a coherent review together, so I’ll just write down some thoughts that crossed my mind while watching the movie, in roughly chronological order. If you manage to make any sense of this, the result might contain some spoilers.

  1. Spock’s a hero.
  2. Kirk’s a hero, too.
  3. Heroism is well underrated in Starfleet HQ.
  4. Spock just doesn’t get it, does he?
  6. Kirk’s being a hero again.
  7. Benedict Cumberbatch is extremely watchable in spandex this role.
  9. Simon Pegg as Scotty is one of the funniest things the Enterprise has ever seen.
  10. There’s not enough of Benedict Cumberbatch in this film.
  11. Oh hello, you beautiful dark stranger wielding futuristic heavy weapons!
  12. Khan: 1; Klingon army: 0
  13. NOT THE FACE!!!!!!!
  14. Kirk remembers he’s got some moral integrity.
  15. (And he’s so going to regret it.)
  16. Khan has a heart. And a bloody good reason for doing all this evil shit.
  17. Benedict Cumberbatch’s acting is flawless. That tear…
  18. Unexpected shit happens.
  19. Everyone on board gets their turn at being a hero.
  20. Kirk-sickle and Khan-sickle shooting through space faster than the speed of light. TOO. FUCKING. EXCITING.
  21. Scotty saves the day.
  22. Khan: “BTW I’m actually totally evil AND YOU WILL ALL DIE NOW, kthxbye.”
  23. Assorted heroism; stuff breaks big time.
  24. Khan actually gets hotter the more violent he becomes.
  25. Spock finally gets it and proceeds to being an even bigger hero.
  27. Kirk’s still the biggest hero of them all.
  28. Some tragic shit happens and I get a bit worried.
  29. Naah, of course it ends well. It’s Star Trek!
  30. I’ll faint now. Just freeze me and put me in that cryotube with Khan, ok?

The best thing about this film, though, is the fact that it inspired the Internet to do THIS:


These are from the guys awesome lady at Khan&Kittens on tumblr and there are dozens more…

Thank god I’m finally obsessed
with Sherlock!

I’ve recently gotten into Sherlock. I know, took my time. But I’m making up for the slowness – I just don’t have enough time to watch TV! – with the level of my obsession.

So, as I normally do when I start obsessing about something, I went on the internet. And the the internet instantly reminded me of the wonders of fandom, the ship, losing a whole day in fanfiction…and that you can never follow too many feeds posting pictures of Benedict Cumberbatch.

I think I’m enjoying this so much because it takes me back to the days when I was a teenager, had a lot more time to watch TV, and stayed up all night reading (or writing) fanfic and browsing into infinity through forums and galleries. And also because Sherlock is the first TV drama that has really gotten to me in this way since the end of X-Files.

Cheekbones alert! (It’s ok to faint a little.)


Ooh, obsessions. How I missed you.

Other contributing factors are certainly that I’ve always been a fan of the original Sherlock stories and, to no small extent, that the Cumberbatch is so damn perfect as Sherlock (and in pretty much every other way, but let’s not digress.)

And then there’s #johnlock. Careful when you tumblr that – the likeliness of NSFW content is high. Johnlock has become the fan community’s label for the relationship between Sherlock and John Watson, which is certainly an interesting one whether you ship it or not. (If you are asking yourself what all this has to do with marine vessels, it’s probably time to look up shipping at this point.)

I’m not exactly a shipper when it comes to Sherlock. Maybe a little bit ship-curious. But I do think that the writers of the series have done a tremendous job in crafting a modern version of the legendary relationship between Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, acknowledging the “are they / are they not?” question with a lighthearted nod at regular intervals. And even though you’d think the writers had fired a fatal blow at the ship by saying recently that romance is not going to happen – “they’re just not wired that way”, apparently – there is certainly enough subtext going on in each episode to keep the ship floating.

So, as much as I enjoy watching and re-watching, and re-watching, and pause-facing Sherlock, I enjoy scrolling through miles of my tumblr and Instagram feeds filled with fun and fancy artwork and shared obsessions. I find it fascinating – and immense fun – to delve into the fandom and observe other people’s perceptions of a TV drama I’m loving. I want to STUDY this stuff. Seriously: If I was still at uni I would totally propose a dissertation analysing the internet’s reaction to the BBC’s Sherlock.

Naturally, my little inner fangirl was extremely delighted last week to find Benedict Cumberbatch ACTUALLY TALKING ABOUT THE FANFIC and Johnlock and all that on TV. That’s just like complete meta-awesomeness.

Here’s the full clip of his appearance on Top Gear from YouTube (until the pull it anyway) and since the Cumberbunny is so utterly watchable you might as well watch the whole thing! (Or if you don’t have ten minutes, BuzzFeed it.)

Cumberbatch discussing Star Trek on Top Gear:

It’s a great relationship…between Kirk and Spock… No! You see, this is it. If I talk about a relationship between two men in a drama, they’re immediately at it. The world wide inter-lie will just basically go, splat, there’s a load of fanfiction, which has me and John Watson floating in space, on a bed, handcuffed to one another…and not just with handcuffs, either.

Oh Sherlock, you see, but you don’t observe…the subtext!

Finally a new feminist icon in a drama series I can obsess about

Catching up on BBC2’s crime drama The Fall. Super excited about the character DSI Stella Gibson, and about her feminism especially. So excited I actually laughed and whooped out loud while watching episode 3 in the office at lunchtime.

Favourite Stella Gibson observation so far:

“It’s the one night stand that bothers you, isn’t it? Man fucks woman. Subject: man. Verb: fucks. Object: woman. That’s okay. Woman fucks man. Woman, subject. Man, object. That’s not so comfortable for you, is it.”

Closely followed by this gem of a comeback when she gets scolded by her superior for sleeping with a fellow officer:

Superior: “He was a married man.”
Stella: “He wasn’t wearing a ring.”
Superior”: I’m sure that’ll be some comfort to his wife, when she finds out her husband spent his last night on earth in your bed.”
Stella: “You were a married man when you spent a night in my bed.”

Right back at’cha, double standards!

I have seriously not been this excited about a female character in a drama series since The X-Files and Prime Suspect.

And did I mention that my new feminist hero is being played by my all time favourite actress Gillian Anderson?!

I’ll review The Fall properly at some point. Once my inner fangirl has calmed down a bit.

re:View – The Great Gatsby, turned up to eleven*

Naturally, I’d start this review by saying I loved the book. And I went to see The Great Gatsby with very mixed feelings – so mixed indeed that I almost didn’t want to go.

Reason #1: I really don’t like Baz Luhrmann’s work. I actively disliked Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge! and watching the trailer for Gatsby made me fear the worst: A cartoonesque butchering of a literary classic.

So I was quite happy to find Gatsby, overall, to be a fairly faithful adaptation. I love that they didn’t mess with the story or the characters, and stayed true to the book’s spirit and meaning.

That said, it really does annoy the hell out of me that Luhrmann has to constantly turn the volume up to eleven on the cinematography – from the rollercoaster camera moves and the flashy effects to the over-cluttered, glitzy sets – to the point where it all becomes grotesquely cartoon-y and the whole experience loses its emotional impact. (The car scenes actually made me feel like I was in the middle of the Roger Rabbit car chase. Too bloody much.) So, while breathtakingly pretty to look at overall, the film didn’t really move me one bit because there was just too much circus going on all the time.

But maybe that’s exactly what Luhrmann intended, and the over-the-topness indeed cleverly captures the fake, superficial world of the fateful Gatsby and his beloved. But I still found it visually annoying, and it did ruin the atmosphere a bit.

Welcome to my party. We blow the whole place up with fireworks every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 8pm, 10pm and midnight.

Reason #2: Leonardo DiCaprio playing Gatsby. I was a teenager when Titanic happened, and so utterly annoyed by the hype that I stayed away from his movies until, very recently, I watched Shutter Island, Inception and Django Unchained and realised that he actually does really good stuff these days.

I still get this “Ugh, not him again” reflex sometimes, simply because his face was just bloody everywhere when I first got into movies and magazines and all that pop culture, but I’ll concede that he is a brilliant actor. And he certainly is the perfect man for Gatsby. I mean, wow. He didn’t play Gatsby, he was Gatsby. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an actor play a character so precisely like I’d imagined him when reading the book.

Lovely as Daisy: Carey Mulligan

Leonardo DiCaprio: Actually amazing as Gatsby

Overall I would call this a well cast and very faithful adaptation of a great classic. And parts of the film – the quieter, less flashy ones – were beautifully composed. The scene where Gatsby first shows Daisy around his house pretty damn near broke my heart. It’s just a shame that some of the beautiful vagueness and delicate atmosphere of the book got drowned out by too many sequins, fireworks and a largely horrendous and inappropriate soundtrack.

For that, 3 out of 5 pens.

* If you don’t get this reference you should watch This Is Spinal Tap. Actually, watch Spinal Tap anyway.

re:View – Nine (reasons why this much-anticipated film is one big, sad missed chance)

  1. Nine stars Sophia Loren, Judi Dench, Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Kate Hudson, Marion Cotillard, Fergie and Daniel Day-Lewis. That’s about as many grand names as you can fit on a movie poster. (With exception of the upcoming Valentine’s Day, maybe.) And that exactly is its curse, too. Packed with so much fame and talent, it has to be amazing. Otherwise it will just be “hmm, well, bit disapointing, don’t you think?” The missed chance here? Well, let me just say it wasn’t amazing.
  2. Despite the high density of talent, charisma and glamour on the screen, this film manages to be exceptionally bland. And “bland” is by no means a lazy writer’s comment. I’ve tried for the last two hours to come up with an adjective that describes the experience. Nine is definitely not amazing, great, cool, good, decent. But the thing is, it’s so…well, bland, that I can’t even call it bad. It’s just sort of neutral. Like the colours of the iconic Italy it’s trying to bring to life (not very successfully so).
  3. It suffers from a distinct lack of plot. I know, I know – that’s the point. The Maestro doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing when trying to make his new film. But we would also get that without the film itself demonstrating that it doesn’t have a clue as to what it is doing either.
  4. In a way following on from 3., the film is of course based on a musical. And musicals tend to get away with being a bit light on the storyline side, mainly because they’ve got all that singing and dancing and being glamorous and stuff. But there are also things that musicals aren’t very good at, one of them being the subtler notes and the more intimate acting. When a musical gets transformed into film, you’d kind of expect them to make use of the chances offered by the medium (as Chicago and Phantom , for example, have done rather impressively.) Nine just sort or randomly puts people into costumes and makes them burst out into song right in the middle of what otherwise could have been nicely done non-musical scenes.
  5. The characters are exceptionally lifeless. Except for the Maestro (Day-Lewis) maybe, but even in his case you get bored of all the eccentricity and torturedness after the first hour. And the women are basically just assorted puppets:
    • The loving, faithful, silently suffering little wife (Cotillard) loving and suffering so faithfully and silently that it just makes you wanna be sick.
    • The hyper-sexy, naive mistress (Cruz) being so over-the-top pouty and clingy that she’s almost comical – sadly without being the least bit funny.
    • The whore (Fergie) who was apparently the Maestro’s first temptation (and brings us the only really impressive musical number) but somehow remains shockingly unattractive in all her aggressive sexuality and completely loses out on the temptation bit.
    • The muse (Kidman) who’s sort of elusive in a trademark Kidman-esque way, but the film fails to turn that elusiveness into her character’s significance – which means she’s basically just irrelevant.
    • The maternal best friend (Dench) who’s mainly babbling good advice in a maternal best friend sort of style and therefore loses most of the impact she could have had.
    • The late mother, whose absence apparently accounts for the Maestro’s tortured soul and screwed-up love life – but since the film somehow forgets to tell us how and why, she also becomes pretty much irrelevant.
    • And the slutty fashion journalist who’s entirely irrelevant from the start and probably serves the sole purpose of suggesting that fashion journalists generally flash their hold-ups at/hand their hotel keys over to anyone remotely famous.

    (They all look hot in their song and dance outfits though.)

  6. Even though being some of Hollywood’s most worshiped beauties, the women appear flawed. Penelope is a bit wrinkly, Kate looks like her mum, and Fergie’s got some horrendously bad skin and seems to be missing a neck. Now don’t get this wrong. I’m all for real women and a revival of un-Photoshopped magazine covers and stuff. But this is a musical, and in musicals people just have to be shiny and beautiful and perfect and a bit unreal. That’s just, ya know, unwritten musical law. Musicals just aren’t the place for harsh reality and the scolding finger of ethics.
  7. The singing ranges between moderate and awful. Even Fergie’s song (Be Italian), although choreographed and shot beautifully, occasionally wanders along the edge of borderline painful.
  8. Kate Hudson kind of looks like Goldie Hawn. Which is kind of distracting. (Okay, so I was short of one reason for my list.)
  9. And then there’s Sophia Loren. Which, in principle, is tremendous, amazing, wonderful. Except that she’s somehow not really there. And I don’t mean because she’s playing the Maestro’s late mother. It just seems as if they weren’t really sure what to do with her in the film, so she just makes a few random appearances. It’s kind of like they cut out a photo of Sophia Loren and stuck it onto some of the scenes. Which is not only a total waste of Sophia Loren, but also quite a big disappointment when you’ve been looking forward to seeing her in a film for months.

Verdict: Does make you wanna sing and dance though. In your underwear.

Mmmh. Shipper Candy*

Girl With a Pen Obsessions™ presents: The beginning of the greatest love story ever seen on television. In pretty, pretty pictures. And with music.

Just because it’s Friday, and because I just watched the X Files pilot for the eleventeenthousandth time. I actually might have watched it eleventeenthousand-and-two times by now if you count the two screen-capping runs I did for this slide show. And in the process it struck me once again how amazing the chemistry between Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny and their characters is from the first second. Especially when you go back to this one after putting yourself through seasons eight and nine (I still watch it all in original airing order – no fast-forwarding, no skips, like the tough X Phile nut I am) it’s absolutely refreshing and heartwarming to see how it was all there from the start. And to be reminded how good this show once was. Well, not exactly the first couple of episodes. In retrospect, Mulder’s emotional outbursts and Scully’s fearful face are just comic. I mean the cult kind of comic. The Twin Peaks kind, if you like. Which is good after all. And, no, this point is not up for discussion.

I know there’s been X Files stuff posted all over the web for years and years and, as you will see, this is certainly not aiming to be the best fan vid ever made – it’s just a sort of mental note to self about why it is perfectly legitimate to be obsessed with this show.

The song is I’ve Just Seen a Face by the Beatles. I was gonna go for something Mark Snow-y, but this one just kept popping back into my head as I threw the pix together. It might be the result of reading too much fan fic, but to me thist song perfectly brings out the undertones in the episode. Yeah, I know, I know. Our favourite duo are only investigating alien abductions and trying to outnerd each other in physics. But isn’t it oh-so-obvious at least when you’re watching for the eleventeenthousandth time how they keep checking each other out? Intellectually, of course. Like the total geeks they are.

* If this headline mainly reads ‘WTF’ to you, go stand in the corner for one hour, then look it up or, better even, do your homework. Extra work is available for those who like to collect nerd points (nerd level onenerd level two.)

Picture of the Week: Emma Watson by Ellen von Unwerth

One thing I love about journalism – no, make that the thing I love most about journalism – is that you learn about new things all the time. At the moment I’m doing work experience at the British Journal of Photography and this past week I had the chance to write a review about a photography exhibition. (Going to a gallery during working hours – there’s just no end to the list of advantages of being a journalist except for the part where you don’t get a job.) So I picked Ellen von Unwerth‘s exhibition Fräulein, which is currently on show at the Michael Hoppen Gallery in London. And then I had a bit of an “OMG” moment when it turned out that she is the artist behind loads of photos I’ve come across and absolutely adored in the past.

Ellen von Unwerth’s story is a really cool one. She used to be a supermodel, but after about ten years it occurred to her that taking pictures is actually much more fun than posing for them. And in no time she became super-famous for getting pretty much much every female icon in fashion, music and film to take off their clothes and pose naughty. The advertising world and all sorts of super-glossy magazines love her, too. And she’s living proof that you don’t need to be a trained photographer to take fantastic photos.

I love the kind of femininity captured in her work. All of her photos I’ve seen so far have one thing in common: The women seem to have a lot of fun with the identity they chose for the shoot. They’ve got this incredibly bold, in-your-face confidence, in a very playful way. Kind of like back in the days when you’d get all glammed up to take fancy snapshots with your girldriends. (Well that’s what her pix remind me of anyway.)

It took me three days to decide which of Ellen von Unwerth’s photos to choose. Even if you limit it down to the celebrities, there are just too many stunning ones. I decided to go for a more recent shoot with Emma Watson. Mostly because she’s been in magazines quite a lot lately, and editorial photos (and features) are somewhat annoyingly pushing the fact that she’s all grown up now. (Okay, so she is. But we got that the first time you told us, dear press. At some point that angle just gets old. And boring.) What I like about this shoot is how it plays with that media obsession with the little Harry Potter girl growing up.

Emma Watson by Ellen von Unwerth

One moment, she’s all innocent little girl, with barely-there make-up and cuddling her retro doll. Then we watch the little girl play dress-up in the bathroom, and she comes out of it as this untouchably confident young lady. And then again, she’s just a dreamy teenager, with tear-smeared mascara, her fragile body almost getting crushed under the load of feminine accessories.

Emma Watson by Ellen von Unwerth

IMHO the best attempt ever to capture Emma Watson’s transformation without annoying everybody with the oh-look-she’s-grown-up angle.

I also strongly recommend checking out more of Ellen von Unwerth’s work. There’s a new monograph, Fräulein, coming out later this month. But that’s 450 quid, so a Google image search might be the better option.

Also, my apologies for once again failing to keep it short. But at least I didn’t mention Gillian Anderson.

re:View – The Spirit (of a greater movie, half-heartedly revived)

So, I finally got round to watching The Spirit – which I was totally dying to see from the moment it was announced, and then totally missed in cinemas (along with pretty much every film that was released during my MA Year from Hell). Well, looks like I haven’t missed out, at least on this one. It’s kind of…bland. (And that’s not even a pun on the signature Frank Miller colour scheme.) I’m not even sure what it’s trying to be. It’s too clichéd to be meant seriously, and not clichéd enough to work as a spoof. And not funny enough, either.

Same for the characters. Sure those superhero movies need their ensemble of stereotypical Good Guys and Bad Guys and In-Between Guys, and Nice Girls and Evil Girls and the staple Batshit Crazy Girl… And in my humble understanding of the genre, the more extreme the opposites (and personality disorders), the better. But The Spirit‘s characters aren’t even evil or crazy enough to actually make you care which side they’re on. No development. No twists. They might fool us for a scene or two – especially the ones with an affinity to the Bad camp – with a little eccentric flair brought on by some stunning, absolutely fabulous costume design. But in the long run it all feels more like some weirdo fashion designer’s latest showcase than anything else. The costume changes are just a bit too random and incoherent to do anything for the characters, who stay rather lifeless behind all the paint and goth fluff.

The film does have some really pretty noir visuals, though. I mean, of course it does. It’s Frank Miller after all. But even the imagery gets a bit stale with déjà vu as you keep going, ‘Oh yeah, seen that before.’ The graphic novel sequences? The token colour objects? The white blood on black? It was original in Sin City. And now it’s just so Sin City. Or more like, so trying to be Sin City.

The Spirit‘s many women are probably the best thing about the film. They’re gorgeous. Really, really beautifully designed – although, again, designed as in nicely styled pictures, not as in carefully carved-out characters. Eva Mendes, Scarlett Johansson, Sarah Paulson and Stana Katic play them brilliantly – within the narrow space the plot allows them. But they could have more of an edge, a little more darkness. I mean, seriously. The Femme Fatale isn’t even bloody fatale. AT ALL. Also, none of them is quite a skinny little Nancy Callahan. But then this is not Sin City either…

Anyway, if there’s one reason for watching the film – apart from being a fan of Frank Miller’s, film noir or the colours black, white and red – this is it:

Verdict: Eva Mendes. Dressed in…diamonds. Does anything else matter, really?